To start at the top, Sarnia forward Nail Yakupov has reclaimed the top spot on the February ranking and I’d expect to see him there for the rest of the year.

His main threat to the top overall spot remains the 6’2, 183 pound Russian monster Mikhail Grigorenko of the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL.

Unless Grigorenko can show a bit more flash offensively, this race might be Yakupov’s to lose.

Grigorenko has the size and strength, but he’s currently lacking the physicality. While Nail Yakupov will skate through you and check you into the glass, Grigorenko still has a ways to develop in using his height and reach advantage.

As he grows older and continues to bulk up, we should see a trend towards Grigorenko utilizing his physicality a bit more.

When it comes to hands and finesse, Grigorenko and Yakupov are nearly identical. Both have a slick set of offensive tools and can beat you with a snipe or a great individual move.

The top 15 of this draft is very heavy on the defensive side of the puck, and the latest ISS ranking features a great battle between the top three defensemen in this draft class.

U.S. Product Jacob Trouba currently tops the list of 2012 eligible defensemen at number 4 overall. Trouba is a true U.S. prospect and is committed to Michigan next season.

Trouba has a cannon of a shot, a really physical edge, a great attitude, and plays the game with a professional presence on the ice.

Trouba has no time to look in the rearview mirror. Everett Silvertips defenseman Ryan Murray is chasing him down in the rearview.

Murray also boasts all the attributes that make a modern day NHL defenseman great, but lacks the mean streak that Trouba showcases.

However, facing skilled forwards one on one, Murray might have the advantage. The hockey sense, patience, and stick work of Ryan Murray really put him light years ahead of the rest of this draft class.

Murray missed the deadline for the 2011 draft by a mere 12 days. He’s leadership material, his skating is bar-none, and I have a hunch that by the end of the year you might see Ryan Murray as the top defenseman in this draft class.

Noting the offensive firepower the Edmonton Oilers have drafted over the course of the last few years, both Murray and Trouba stand out as possible destinations for these youngsters when draft time finally rolls around.

On a final darkhorse note, Tim Bozon ranks in at #35 overall this year. Bozon is American born and Switzerland raised, this is his first full year playing North American hockey. The youngster has put up impressive numbers so far for Kamloops of the WHL (30 goals, 31 assists, 59 games.

You might see Bozon sneak into the first round as Kamloops continues to make a strong push towards the playoffs. This could be a name that bumps a really good player out of the first round completely.